Detainees With Mental Health Issues Tasered In Dorset Police Cells
8:29am 12th December 2014
(Updated 8:30am 12th December 2014)
Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner has launched a stinging attack on the use of tasers by Dorset Police.
Martyn Underhill has learnt that three detainees were tasered while being held in Police cells in Dorset last year.
What's more shocking is that one or more of them had mental health issues.
The PCC has raised his concerns to Home Office officials, he's also written to the Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Debbie Simpson, to formalise his concerns and to request the following:
1. A summary of the three incidents. It is currently unclear whether the three people were detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act or for criminal offences.
2. A commitment from Dorset Police that any future deployment of a taser (where the taser is fired) in a custody suite will be brought to the attention of the Dorset OPCC within 24 hours.
3. A guarantee from Dorset Police that, whenever possible, such taser deployments are captured on video.
Martyn Underhill, Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "I am really concerned to learn about the use of tasers in police cells. In my view the Police Service needs stricter boundaries on deployment and stronger scrutiny when they do deploy. Just as I have campaigned to stop the appalling practice of adults and children in mental health crisis being criminalised in custody suites, so I will campaign to stop mentally ill people being tasered in a cell.
A decade ago, politicians and the public were persuaded to import taser into the UK as an alternative to shooting someone dead. The Police Service has allowed "mission creep" and now tasers are routinely carried and deployed as an alternative to all types of restraint. Parliament needs to intervene here and swing the pendulum back."
"It will never 'be okay' to taser someone who is scared, frightened and in crisis in a small cell. People have human rights and their dignity must be protected. Whilst I accept taser deployment is an operational matter, and therefore outside of my remit, I believe the public will expect stricter guidance and scrutiny here. Of course, one of the main issues is to remove persons in crisis who haven't broken the law from police cells to healthcare settings, and that argument is well rehearsed."